Infographics in Abundance

I’m always a little bit wary of info graphics, largely because as a scientist/mathematician I want to see the raw data too, just to make sure sure I agree with the presentation of the data.  However, that doesn’t mean that all info graphics are incorrect and they are increasingly more popular, so teaching students to evaluate them is an important 21st century skill.

The Aside Blog has a fantastic page full of links to various info graphics for you to use in class.  I also love the video they highlight by Column Five which talks about specific visualization strategies for presenting data.  So if you’re interested in data visualization and info graphics, head on over to the blog and start indulging your inner data geek.

Maps Galore!

I have just stumbled across the best source for high quality maps of all sorts of wacky types.  Over at Reddit there is a group that aggregates great map images.  Unfortunately it has an unfortunate name that makes it educational unfriendly, and might get stuck in your schools filter, so be warned.  The group is called Map P*rn, which is the unfortunate part, however, the site is moderated and the content is only full of sexy maps.

Tons of old maps, new maps, fantasy maps, enough to satisfy even the most fanatical map loving humanities teacher.  Below are a few examples of a few that I found in a minute of browsing.

Urban Heat vs Green Spaces

Wildlife of the United States

1635 Siege of Dutch Fortress

Voice Thread

Embed Voice Threads for students to share and collaborate.

Students and teachers can collaboratively create and comment on almost anything.  When finished you can play back the process.  Basically it’s a way to have a non-linear discussion.  Comments can be left in text, by voice, or by drawing on the presentation itself.

I’ve seen this tool used very effectively by our Mandarin teacher (@alisonkis on Twitter), for having students submit oral assignments as at home practice.  Truly though, this is great for any subject you want students to discuss outside of the class, or in class in a non-linear way.

TED Talks

TED’s tagline is: Ideas Worth Spreading.  Sounds like education to me!  Some of TED’s talks are great at motivating teachers to teach better; some are great for motivating students to want to learn; others are great specific examples of ideas and topics you may be teaching.

Be careful when you head over to TED.com or you might find yourself chewing up 20 hours of time!  It is an addictive place to get motivated.

If you’re interested in using TED Talks on your own website, you can easily click the SHARE button just below the video.

After you have selected SHARE, then you will see various options for embedding.  If you are a WORDPRESS user make sure to grab the specific code so that it will show up appropriately in your blog.  Otherwise, grab the embed code and insert into your own page.

Here are a few of my favorite examples!


Wolfram Alpha Widgets

WolframAlpha has some pretty awesome Widgets in Beta testing right now.  In fact you can easily create your own widgets.

Some of these are great for higher level maths, but I think they could be quite useful in the lower grades as well, particularly for investigating patterns.  They’re also not just for Math, but could be useful for Biology, Chemistry, Business and Finance, Humanities, and are really open to any good query searches.

Finding the widgets is quite simple.  Head over to WolframAlpha.com Widget Gallery and then browse for an appropriate  WIDGET.

Once you’ve located the widget that you want you can select the EMBED button on the right and it will give you the source code to EMBED the widget into your page!

If you use Blogger or WordPress, it’s even easier.  Just click the appropriate button and it will take you to your Blogger/Wordpress page and insert it straight away.

If you want to create your own widget then at the top of the page instead of browsing you can select BUILD A NEW WIDGET.

Or you can select this from the widget start page.

If you choose to build your own widget, I would recommend you watch the 6-7 minute tutorial video that is located on the widget building page.  It is very informative and easy to follow.

Suggested Uses for Teachers:
– Provide a calculator for specific functions you want your classes to investigate
– Create a widget for an investigation, or even use one of WolframAlpha’s Lesson Plans for investigations
Suggested Uses for Students:
– Create calculators for projects and investigations

You can even insert a Wolfram Alpha search right into your page by going to: http://www.wolframalpha.com/addtoyoursite.html